Episode 150 — How to Stalk People (and Get the Contacts)


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Episode 150 — How to Stalk People (and Get the Contacts)

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 150! This Episode is all about stalking: In other words, how to get anyone’s email address so you can do you outreach — and get the job!

I’m really excited about this Episode! I’m going to go over the tools and tactics to get anyone’s email address and find out who the Studio Head or a Department Head is at a studio. If you use this information to spam people, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Please use this information responsibly. You have to put thought and care when doing outreach.

I’m also including a video tutorial for this Episode: www.AllanMcKay.com/emailhack/.

Let’s dive in!



[4:10] I have a book that I’ve printed on how to build the ultimate demo reel: www.allanmckay.com/ultimatedemoreel/. It will be released as an audio book on Amazon later. There hasn’t been such information out there on demo reels written by someone who actually does the hiring. Whatever stage you’re at in your career, there will be a lot of valuable information for you.

[6:31] Next Episode, I am interviewing the Crew Manager for Realtime UK about everything it takes to get the job. You can tell this month, that’s the primary subject I want to cover. I want to go all out and cover all the bases.

[7:26] If you aren’t on my Insider Circle List, make sure to sign up right now: www.allanmckay.com/inside/. The reason I mention it, for this Episode alone, I’m sending out 5-6 emails about outreach and hacks. People who are on my email list will receive this content. It’s worth while — and free — to be on there.



[8:28] A lot of us aren’t aware that opportunities to have your reel seen aren’t that high, especially by decision makers. It’s also important to write a solid cover letter, to cover any possible mistakes or assumptions. Your reel is most likely to land in HR and it gets put into a database or a spreadsheet. That’s why being able to anticipate problems before they come up is so important! That’s where your cover letter comes in as an important tool. (This is something I cover in the book I mentioned earlier: www.allanmckay.com/ultimatedemoreel/.)

[12:51] In an earlier Episode (www.allanmckay.com/11/), I’ve talked about entering through the side door. I got an email the other day from someone who followed that Episode — and successfully got a job! You want to think about entering through the side door. In other words, you don’t want to be lining up at a job interview with all these candidates. Think outside the box and create your own opportunities! I want you to start thinking about:

  • Building a database;
  • Sending out 5 email every day;
  • Building an automated system where it’s really easy to do such outreach.
  • Even one of those leads could be a job.

[15:14] This week, I had a phone call with a guy who is closing an 8-figure movie deal. All I did was respond to his emails back in 2005. Since then, I would respond to a message or two. He’s now come back with a unique opportunity. The reason I mention this is: Just one email you write can lead to an opportunity — let alone five emails! You have to be in it to win it! 

[16:24] A lot of us wait until a job is over and we dust off our reel and start applying for jobs again. A good metaphor here is: You want to build your well before you’re thirsty. In other words, build the well to catch all the rain. Don’t wait until the desperate moment when you need a job. You can be the greatest artist in the world. But if no one knows you, why does that matter?

[17:19] Finally, I want to communicate the importance of relationships. It’s important to nurture these. Instead of spamming everyone, build authentic relationships. The emails that stand out to me are the ones that communicate the value that person can bring to a team. What kind of value do you bring to a team? (Inserting a few of those Starbucks cards into an email doesn’t hurt either.)

[18:11] What if you had the ability to pull up anyone’s email address? Any studio head, any supervisor or department lead? What if you could pinpoint every one of those in your area? You can copy and paste the email template and you start building relationships. You can start a conversation. You can then start sharing your work organically. The biggest thing, of course, is getting the leads. If you do it right, it’s not a cold lead. So, how do you get these leads?


Where Do I Start?

[19:47] Whenever we watch movies, you can spot whoever the VFX person is in the audience. They are the ones who stay and watch the credits after the movie is over. The easiest way for me to stay in touch with people is to watch those as well. “Oh, I didn’t know that So-and-so worked on this / or at this studio!” It’s always fun to see what people are up to. However, watching movie credits is a really great source for you to learn what studios are working on the movies you want to do — and who their supervisors are. The supervisor and leads will get individual credits. Those people are great to reach out to. That way you can start building a list, rather than searching the website and get passed through the system. HR people are great at what they do and know the needs of the company; but they can’t distinguish what’s so special about your reel, at the highest level. Those subtleties are what makes you stand out to a trained eye.

[22:38] You look at ILM — ILM’s amazing! — but only in the last few years their dynamics got great with destruction. You go back a few movies where character animators would do destruction. My point is that with this stuff, HR, reception or studio managers aren’t the people who will know the potential in your shots. Keep that in mind: The person who is putting you in the database and dumbing it down to your name and email — is in charge of your fate. Having the right person is going to change that a lot, so targeting the right person is going to be critical. Watch your favorite movie and then target the studios you want to work with. (IMDb is another great source. So is Cinefex or reading trade publications online about what projects are coming up. You can reach out to people if you read an interview with them. People might get curious when you build that rapport first.)

[25:00] Going beyond that, LinkedIn is massive resource. So many people are on it. A lot of people are on LinkedIn and they update their stuff just to keep it valid; but not everyone is actively reading messages and networking. (Check out my Episode on Becoming a LinkedIn Ninja: www.allanmckay.com/32). LinkedIn is where it all begins. You can type in any studio and come up with any people who works there or used to work there. The other day, I thought I could type in “compositor” for Method Studios. I actually have connections with people who are there already; so I don’t need to do the cold emails. So I can contact one of my buddies and ask him / her to pass on my reel; or I can ask to tag along for lunch. That sort of this is important: Utilize the connections that you have. You can do it in a way that’s genuine. Nothing is more important than your social capital. 

[29:16] From there, it’s easy to type in — in addition — “comp”. That’s broad enough that it’s going to come back with “compositing”, “compositor”, etc. I might try “2D comp” and that will bring up important people: leads, supervisors, heads of compositing departments. You can click on those people and bring up their profiles. Having their names and titles is great already! In the bottom right corner, there is a section “People Also Viewed”. These are clones of these people in similar roles. It creates a pattern of similar people. That way you come up with 3-4 people. Better to play it by the numbers. That’s really important to broaden your options!


How Do I Find the Emails?

[31:44] From there, the fun part begins: Build out a list and reach out to 5 of them a week. Once you’ve built the list, you can start using the list of tools I’m about to mention. I do this stuff — not to get a job but to do my Podcast outreach, for example.

[32:42] There are a lot of CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) tools. With sales people, these are the tools that crawl through the internet and collect data. I’ve discovered a tool called Reportive (it doesn’t exist anymore). With Gmail, it would come up with their photo, LinkedIn, Facebook, any bit of information! Anyone I was emailing, I felt like I knew a lot of information about them already. It was a free tool. That one got me aware of tools. The tools I want to mention are free or close to free. I would rather use all the tools I use, and you can use the right one and find the one that’s more successful for what you need:

  • One of these tools is called SellHack (www.sellhack.com). It was a Google Chrome extension, so I don’t need to Google anyone. I can just click a button and it would come back with an accurate email for that person. You can use the free version (it’s a little bit limited because of that). Most of the times, you will get emails back.
  • Another Chrome extension I use is called Clearbit (www.clearbit.com). Clearbit is cool because you can be composing an email and when you’re ready to send it, you click on Clearbit — and it comes up with every email address it has in store for every person at that company. The free version is limited: It comes up with about 30 leads. (I’m sure I’m going to get some angry emails from studios now. So please don’t spam them! Nurture the relationships!)
  • Another tool I like is called FullContact (www.fullcontact.com). This is like Reportive: It appears in the right sidebar with additional information about a person. I like that when someone emails me, I get a feel for their personality. It gives a bit of an idea about whom I’m speaking to. You can compose the email and enter my email — it will check for real email addresses. In other words, you can use this tool to validate an email address.

[39:11] The links above are tools. Then, there are also websites. (For a lot of these websites, it will use a pattern recognition.)

  • The first one is Email Hunter (www.hunter.io). Email Hunter is okay as a free version. You can type in a name and a studio, but it doesn’t give many names back. It may come back with the right person. You may also come back with a real cool lead.
  • The other one is Adapt (www.adapt.io). It has a free version as well.
  • Sales Tools is another one (https://salestools.io). This one is really cool. You do have to pay to play. When I was doing search for Method Studios, it came back with 600 leads. It gave me the most amount of leads. This one has a really great potential: It will give the person’s name, email address and job title.
  • I use Find That Lead the most (www.findthatlead.com). I’ve purchased this one. This one is my favorite. I can type in just the company or job title. I can export people into an Excel sheet. That’s my favorite website!
  • Another one is Voila Norbert (www.voilanorbert.com). There is a free account that allows you 50 contacts in total. It will validate the email in Gmail. You do have to pay an additional fee to test it, however. You can type in the person’s name and studio.
  • Another one I should mention is Mail Tester (www.mailtester.com). It is a basic website and it pings a mail server. It comes back with info if an email address is legit. It will verify if it’s a valid email address or not. If the domain has some protection that prevents testing emails, it will not work. That’s why you should use these in combination with each other.


What’s My Plan of Action?

[48:11] In terms of the actual recipe:

  • I will go to IMDb or Cinefex and look at the movie that I want to work on — and all the people at that studio.
  • Then, I will go to LinkedIn and find that person and also people similar to that person under “Also Viewed”.
  • Then, I will go to Sell Hack and verify the email address.
  • If the email doesn’t come back, I will go to Voila Norbert and / or Find That Lead. There are always some tricky contacts though.
  • I can then go to Mail Tester to test the email address.

That’s a short version of it, but that’s how I would go about it. Most people will be split into two categories: 70% of people won’t care. They don’t realize they can contact any person! The other 30% who realize that this is a powerful thing — they need to realize how to do it. You need to build a system around it. Everything requires finesse. Doing outreach and building contacts is part of your job. Build the relationships.



[52:24] If you want to work at a studio, look at the other people who are working there. By looking at their profiles, you can understand the caliber of artists that studio hires. Being able to figure out the commonality and looking at their reels will help you: They may have abstract stuff on their reels. So you can add similar stuff to yours. (You can find their reel by typing their names with “VFX” on Vimeo or YouTube. But most artists will have their reels on their LinkedIn.) You can also always email these artists! There is nothing wrong with that! Make sure to mention how you’ve found them and why (so you don’t creep them out). Ask them about the company culture or whatever your question is. Use common sense and figure out what the common sense approach is. Make sure to build relationships. Invest the time!

[57:08] Be genuine about how you do this stuff! Do it more often and get into the habit of outreach. This will build a habit. Build your network and do it in a way where you’re giving more than you’re getting. Think about what you can do for them. Put in the value and effort. I have people emailing me offering to use their camera or drone. That’s their way of offering some value. Come in being genuine and think long term!


I hope this is valuable for you. Going forward I would like to do more of actionable content like this and solo Episodes. Go to my Inner Circle: www.allanmckay.com/inside/. That way you won’t miss anything!

I want to give value back. I want you to reach your full potential.

  • Next Episode, I will be interviewing RealtimeUK.
  • In addition to that, I have a book you can access right now: www.allanmckay.com/ultimatedemoreel. It’s not going to be available for long!

Until then —

Rock on!


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